Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s switch to a back three against Tottenham proved to be the right decision, but it will be interesting to see whether the Norwegian retains that system against Duvan Zapata and Atalanta.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side are going to be a completely different proposition to a toothless Spurs side, who proved to be the best possible opposition for Solskjaer to face, following the dreadful performance against Liverpool.
After coming from two goals behind against the Italians at Old Trafford, playing four at the back, the Norwegian could well stick with three at the back in Bergamo.
Three at the back again
Following the successful transition to three at the back at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and with Gasperini’s side also playing with a three-man backline, it would be a surprise to see Solskjaer go back to a back four.
In the first half of the clash between the two sides at the Theatre of Dreams, La Dea were 2-0 up with their star striker Zapata sat on the bench.
After Marcus Rashford reduced the deficit, Gasperini sent on Zapata in place of his Colombian compatriot Luis Muriel.
David de Gea bailed out Victor Lindelof after the Swede was easily out-muscled and spun by Zapata. If that had gone in Atalanta would have restored their two-goal lead.
The Spaniard got down low to deny Zapata and then reacted quickly to a fierce drive by Ruslan Malinovskyi straight after.
If Lindelof is going to play against the physically imposing Zapata, who has started all three of Atalanta’s games following the dramatic game in Manchester, he is going to need the additional protection that the extra defender brings.
In those three games since matchday three in Group F, Zapata has two goals and an assist to his name.
Raphael Varane brought order back to United’s defence on Saturday, playing at the heart of the back three and his pace and experience will be crucial in marshalling our vulnerable backline.
If everyone is fit then Solskjaer may decide to go with the same eleven that won comprehensively in London and that could prove crucial in ensuring Lindelof doesn’t get isolated against Zapata.
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